What Do Bad Wheel Bearings Sound Like?

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What Do Bad Wheel Bearings Sound Like?
A bad wheel bearing needs replacing before problems occur. (auto image by Falk from Fotolia.com)

The wheel bearing is a simple but vital automobile part that allows a wheel to spin freely. Bad wheel bearings need replacing before they fail to avoid damage to the car and possible injury due to loss of control.

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As wheel bearings become worn a driver may notice sound coming from the wheel. Bad wheel bearings often make a rumbling noise that may be noticed at one speed and not another. The noise will often correspond to the vehicles speed becoming louder or more steady at higher speeds.


Along with a rumbling sound, bad wheel bearings may also make a vibration that can be felt in the car or in the steering wheel. This vibration may become worse at higher speeds, when turning or braking.

Testing and Repair

If a bad wheel bearing is suspected, the wheel bearing is tested by safely raising the vehicle and moving the wheel. The wheel should spin smoothly and not show side to side play. If the wheel bearing needs replaced the part is generally inexpensive and the repair is not complicated but can be time-consuming.

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